Sunday, February 12, 2012

Books, Books, Books

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.
Thomas Jefferson 

I love books, especially good books.  Books have provided me the opportunity to see, learn and experience things that I could never pull all together on my own.  How grateful I am that people are inspired to write down the information they gather and the stories that give insight into history and culture.  I love all types of books—fiction, non-fiction, current events, politics, history, science, biography.  Knowing that all that information is there for the taking keeps me up at night, quite literally. 

Time is limited.  There’s no way I’ll be able to read all the books that might interest me.  Over 33 million books are in the Library of Congress with around 300,000 new books written each year in the U.S.   Currently I am 36 years old.  By 2050 the average male life expectancy in the U.S. will be around 80 years old.  Assuming I’m in good enough mental condition to continue reading until I’m 75 I have just over 2,000 weeks of good reading remaining.  If I average one book a week, that means just 2,000 more books.  Of course, I’m going to shoot for a slightly higher average, maybe closer to 1.5 books per week.

With such a limited number of books I can read in the time I have remaining, the need to be selective in my reading continues to weigh on me.  I’m constantly looking for books that provide the most interest and benefit.  I try to balance my choices between fiction and non-fiction.  In making my selections I’ve considered avoiding fiction more, but I love the cultural and social insights provided by fiction.  Fiction provides a window into our own souls and experiences.  It allows us to see into other cultures, to experience different viewpoints. 

When looking for books I always appreciate suggestions from others.  As one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln once said:

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.”

With that in mind I thought I would share a short list of books I’ve read and enjoyed recently. 

Stone’s Fall by Iain Pearse (Fiction)
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
The Passage by Justin Cronin (Fiction)
To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson by Heidi S. Swinton
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Fiction)
Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card (Fiction)

Please feel free to share some of the books you’ve read recently and would suggest to others.

- Jarad Van Wagoner


Boris said...

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (Full disclosure: I read it because I know the author. But I was delighted to find that it was an engaging and compelling story.)

I've also started reading Shantaram based on one of your recent Facebook posts. So far it's got amazing descriptive use of poetic prose, but it's still topped by Cutting for Stone. Ask me in another few hundred pages, and we'll see.

The Flip Side said...

Boris, I'm excited to get another opinion on Shantaram. I have a few more books I'm in the middle of now that I should finish first. Thanks for the other two suggestions. I'm going to take a look at them this evening.